Friday, April 21, 2006

Boiling blood and global warming

There's a mixture of anger and depression, as I feel my hands tied over this apartment situation. The hotel is getting very old, but I don't want to go looking for another. I keep thinking it's just another day, but how long can they string me out?

The smoke alarm went off at 4:30 a.m., launching me to my feet. This is not one of those annoying home units. It's like a fire engine in your bedroom. I pulled the thing off the ceiling and yanked the electrical connector. Then I heard others going off around the motel, and people talking.

Someone had apparently set off the motel's fire alarm system. As I tried to rest again, my ears were ringing. I hope the damn thing did no permanent damage.

Renewed for yet another day. This time I asked they service my room. It hasn't been done since I arrived about 10 days (and $600) ago.

Over to look at the apartment again. The owners are obviously away. It's anyone's guess when they might return, but I find it hard to believe they wouldn't leave rental instructions. That's very irresponsible of someone.

George Bush is visiting Napa Valley today and tomorrow. I may go over and heckle. He should not be able to go anywhere without hearing from the many of us who disapprove of his cavalier Administration making the World more dangerous for our nation. Eisenhower's parting caution about the rise of the military-industrial complex has become a reality on a scale that even he could never have imagined.

After 4:00 p.m., with the weekend approaching and no further word from Rosie at Paul Perdue, I drove over to see what I should do. I walked in and asked Rosie "what's new?"

"I still haven't heard from anyone."

"Well it's irresponsible to have a house on the market and no way of contacting the people."

She said she hasn't been irresponsible, and has done everything she could. "I've left messages for both and...the owner hasn't called back." (She stopped herself short of saying Paul hadn't called back.)

"I've spent $300 waiting around for an answer."

"You didn't have to wait."

"Yes I did. I want the apartment. You didn't talk with Paul?"

"About your request to talk to him?"

"Yes."

"You can talk to him next week."

"Did he say that? Or did you say that?"

Then she said she really didn't want to talk to me anymore, and that she would ask me to leave.

"Will you leave or do I have to call the police?"

"Am I threatening?"

"Yes."

"I will leave, but here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to report this to the Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce."

"Oh, I'm scared..." she said sarcastically.

"It's your job..." I said, and walked out.

This bullshit just makes me want to leave this place. It's true that I wasn't treated this way anywhere I traveled. Even the police who asked for pay-offs showed more respect and consideration.

At first I just started compiling notes to support a claim with "Better Business Bureau". Then I started crafting a letter to the Moritas (the apartment owners), as at this point I had serious doubts that Rosie would even pass on my application.

Went to "FedEx Kinkos" (geez!) in Santa Rosa to print out the letter. No longer at the former "Kinko's" location, I had to ask a neighbor where they had moved. He pointed just down the street, next to "Peet's Coffee". They were now in the old "Copperfield's" location. ("Copperfield's" was the downtown bookstore "Barnes and Noble" put out of business by going in right across the street.)

Drove over to Moritas, to leave the letter attached to their door, but arriving, saw lights on in the house.

Rang the bell, reluctant to disturb them, as they obviously had just returned from traveling. Mr. Morita answered and I explained my intention to leave this letter for them. He very graciously invited me in so I could explain the situation. He had some concerns about the property management company in the past.

Mrs. Morita joined us in the living room and I shared the week's events and learned that, indeed, they had been in Arizona, out of touch, and probably had numerous voicemail messages awaiting them. And, yes, they had insisted that Perdue contact them before renting the unit. So, it seems I owe Rosie something of an apology, though she could well have done a better job of explaining the situation.

As it turns out, Mr. Morita rides a Honda Gold Wing, and before I left, he proudly showed me his "baby", carefully garaged and on a trickle-charger, awaiting the riding season.

***

Motorcyclists are necessarily among the most attentive drivers, I think. Their bodies depend on a more heightened awareness of their surroundings. They're less likely to be driving distracted by cell phones, stereos, food and drink, newspapers, books, maps, children, DVDs, animals, etc.

In fact, as I ride in traffic, I'm shocked how distracted drivers have become. Maybe it's a skill they've developed, to multi-task successfully, but from a motorcyclist's perspective, it's frightening.

***

Sensors for many trafffic lights around Santa Rosa fail to be triggered by the weight of my motorcycle (and it's a relatively heavy bike.) This often leaves me with a decision: "run" the light (when it's safe, of course) or wait until a car comes along that will trigger the light. I feel discriminated against!

***

With gas right at $3.00 per gallon, I'm probably making the same compromises other drivers are making: using a lower octane fuel, reducing speeds (and putting an end to "jack-rabbit" starts), trying to consolidate errands, generally driving less. "Going for a drive" is just not acceptable now.

Of course, market economics generally work: as prices increase, demand falls, causing prices to eventually fall, always in search of equilibrium. Outside influences (government intervention, corporate intervention, natural disasters, etc.) can skew the marketplace but it will inevitably resist these forces. Greedy oil companies too slow to react to lowering demand can drive innovations that are not in their best interest, such as alternative fuel sources, mass transit, consolidation of cities (reversal of sprawl), walking and bicycling, telecommuting, etc.

Many of us consider a high gas price a positive behavioral influence. Oil companies may be becoming obscenely wealthy, but it's unsustainable. People will find a way to live without their product. They will innovate. It doesn't necessarily require technology either. It might be a lack of technology that solves their dilemma.

And when "CNN" is filling it's programming with shows on global warming, you have to be encouraged that the innovating has begun, and oil companies are becoming very uncomfortable.

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